On Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus scored a big victory in its ongoing mission to formulate a jobs creation package that actually targets the chronically unemployed (which, as we've reported recently, largely means black people). The Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act passed a House vote, and though the bill does not include the full $1.3 billion for youth summer jobs that the CBC wants, it does make a "down payment" of $600 million that would create approximately 300,000 new jobs. The bill also promises to provide $5.1 billion in disaster relief to communities through FEMA to address the lingering impact of Katrina and other natural disasters—which, again, usually leave larger impacts on poorer (and minority) victims. Now, the bill joins several other small-business and jobs measures that are likely to pass in the Senate.
The CBC chairwoman, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), defended the push for new legislation in a press release. "When you take a look at the numbers, it’s clear why this funding is so critical," she wrote;
The youth unemployment rate currently stands at more than 23 percent. Many low-income and minority youth populations face even greater challenges. African-American youth unemployment rates are now estimated to be as high as 42 percent. So we need targeted assistance to help put our young people to work, and to teach them an array of valuable job skills that they can use throughout life.
At the beginning of this month, the CBC launched a five-week campaign to gather policy solutions for and from the chronically unemployed. It is now accepting emailed suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I've already submitted mine.